Digital Nerd

Friday, August 26, 2005

One Device to Rule Them All

Via Wired:

Think of 18- to 34-year-olds as generation WHOIS. They live on e-mail, communicate via instant messaging, change ringtones on their cell phones at the drop of a baseball cap (turned backward, naturally), play video games, download music (sometimes they'll even pay for it), get more of their news from the net than TV and print, experiment with podcasting, read and write their own blogs and access RSS feeds.

Most of all, they expect to customize their entertainment experience. How else to explain the market for customized ringtones, which last year exceeded $2 billion worldwide, most of it skimmed from teens and twenty-somethings willing to shell out a couple of bucks for a snippet of 50 Cent?

In short, they are technology consumers. Early adopters. Tastemakers and trendsetters. Yet none of the big cell-phone providers like Sprint, Verizon or Cingular has addressed this market exclusively, even though members of gen WHOIS are among their most steadfast customers.

This is where Amp'd Mobile comes in. Launching in the next few months, Amp'd touts itself as the first wireless service provider to target young adults. Actually the company sees itself more as a provider of entertainment than a traditional cell-phone company.

Armed with almost $70 million in venture capital, Peter Adderton, the company's caffeinated CEO from Australia, believes the future will be composed of mobile entertainment at 60 mph, and the market will be driven by the audience with the most insatiable appetite for it: generation WHOIS.

He says that everything you can do at home -- watching TV, viewing movies, listening to the radio or your iPod, downloading music, accessing MapQuest or global positioning systems -- you'll be able to do on a bus, in your car or walking down the street. And you'll do it on a cell phone, which about 60 percent of Americans already own.

"As a kid I'd see one device to control everything," Adderton said. "Now it's starting to happen. Wi-Fi has redefined how consumers consume mobile media. Combine Wi-Fi with cell phones and satellite radio, and you can create an unbelievable social device."

The question is, which company will lead this charge? There are companies building the devices, companies supplying the applications and companies providing the content. Adderton wants Amp'd to do it all, to offer one cell phone-like device with a screen to provide all of your mobile entertainment needs. And you thought the BlackBerry (often referred to as the "crackberry") was addictive.

Here's how Adderton sees the near future: You'll be asleep in your house, and your wireless entertainment device will wake you up. It'll be voice-activated, so if you want some music -­- Nelly or Eminem ­-- you just say so. You'll use the device to turn on your TV and change channels or to surf the internet on your computer. Just tell it what you want to do and it'll take you there.

When you go outside, you'll plug it into your car and it will serve as a global positioning system and give you detailed directions to where you're going. The device will tell the car stereo what tunes you have on your iPod and play them over the speakers. If someone else is driving, you can watch TV news or surf the internet, answer e-mail, download music or read an electronic book. At work you can put the phone up to a special reader and pay for lunch or coffee. Perhaps you'll hold a video conference. Or pay bills.

If you are in e-commerce mode, you can purchase music or movies, which will automatically be stored in your home entertainment system as well as in your wireless device, which will hold 34 MB of data -­- or much more with an optional card. Or you can download an interview with Dave Chappelle as you watch reruns of his show on Comedy Central, because the device will function like TiVo, too.

More here:


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